Count Ory's Cons – Pro or Con?
A Discussion of Behavioral Ethics
Students will enjoy starting the class with an open discussion of the Met performance. What did they like? What didn’t they? Did anything surprise them? What would they like to see or hear again? What would they have done differently? This discussion will offer students an opportunity to review the notes on their My Highs & Lows sheet, as well as their thoughts about the stagecraft in this Met production—in short, to see themselves as Le Comte Ory experts.
As discussed in the Classroom Activity, the central figure of Le Comte Ory is a trickster, or con man. Now that students have seen the production, however, they may have a new perspective on Count Ory and his tricks. Reviewing the events of the opera, direct their attention to the ethical aspects of each of the characters’ actions.
Ethics is a branch of philosophy that considers the effects of an event on all the people involved—the “stakeholders.” So first, students will want to identify the stakeholders at each point in Le Comte Ory. Then they can begin to consider such ethical questions as:
Was Isolier right in approaching the hermit?
Was he right in tricking the Count in the Countess’s bedroom?
Was it really wrong for Ory to pretend to be a religious hermit? Why or why not?
Was dressing up as nuns to sneak into the castle an ethical act? Who might disagree?
How do you decide whether something is a fun practical joke or a serious, unethical act?
Following this conversation, in class or for homework, students can write a letter to the Duke, Count Ory’s father (who never appears in the opera). They can report on his son’s behavior and recommend how the Duke should respond to Count Ory when he comes home from his adventure at Formoutiers. Should he be punished? Praised? Banished from the dukedom—or perhaps just married off?